A Figure Skating Scandal A-Brewing?

The Sochi Olympics has been entertaining so far in so many ways. From Russia’s terrible anti-gay laws to the #SochiProblems reported in the Twitterverse to the terrorist attacks, I’ve nicknamed this Olympics the Clusterf$ck Olympics because so much had gone wrong even before the games even started. Now, there are allegations of another storm to pass by the Olympics in figure skating.

In a French article by l’Equipe (forgive me for the lack of accent), alleges that Russia and the U.S. have struck a deal so that the U.S. will help the Russians win the team event while the Russians will help the American ice dance team, Meryl Davis & Charlie White to win gold in the individual event. Even before the team event started, there was talk that the results of the team event would be Russia, Canada and the U.S. in first, second and third respectively while Davis and White would win the gold with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir getting the silver in the individual event. So far, the prediction for the team event has come true and apparently the Canadian skaters have been subjected to what may be an unusual number of anti-doping tests right before the competition.

Olympics team event 2014

A reader has asked me what my take on this whole situation and well, here we go. More

Perfection in Sochi: Carolina Kostner

I haven’t really blogged about the events so far at the Olympics, partly because I just want to enjoy them and partly because I’m at a loss at how to talk about the programs and performances without videos for you to watch. Videos of Olympic programs are hard to come by right now because of copyright issues but if I can find anything, I will do my best to make a highlights post.

Ever since the ladies team event has ended, I’ve been trying to find what I think was the highlight of the night: Carolina Kostner’s perfect SP. She finished 2nd in the short, but I think that the #1 lady right now, Julia Lipnitskaia was a tad overmarked on the PCS. Either way, this skate shows that Carolina has maturity, elegance, musicality and just pure magic that the young Lipnitskaia has yet to develop.

EDIT: So, as expected, the video got taken off. I’ll try to look for another one. If you have a video link, link me in the comments! New link found!

Enjoy~!

What did you think of the team events so far? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

The Science of Figure Skating

Youtube has become a very interesting place since its inception. Nowadays, we’re seeing random viral videos, internet personalities and channels educating the public on things like Pokemon, popular opinion on hot topics and… science! There is a plethora of channels devoted to science out there and with the Winter Olympics, even they have taken an interest in figure skating. The following are some fun videos, some exclusively about figure skating, others about things pertaining to figure skating.

Enjoy~!

Have a science video on figure skating you want to share? Link me in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Olympic Ads: Team USA

Like any smart person on the internet, I have an e-mail account for stuff that’s not important or ads. You know what I mean, the e-mail you put in when some shop asks you to fill out a survey or whatnot. In any case, I have never bought anything from Ralph Lauren in my life but for some reason, I keep getting e-mails from them. One of them featured an ad with some figure skaters, including Mr. Windmill, Evan Lysacek as well as Meryl Davis & Charlie White.

ralph lauren team usa

I’m really not sure what this ad is supposed to achieve considering none of the athletes look attractive in any of the clothing in this shot. Also, where is Evan’s trademark orange glow? I mean, what is Evan without his orange-ness?

Anyways, have you seen any ads in your country featuring figure skaters? Send them my way and I’ll feature them in a post! Until then…

~The Rinkside Cafe

Throwback Thursday: Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao

The Olympics are upon us! Hooray! This post marks the last Throwback Thursday post for the Sochi Olympics. The next Throwback Thursdays will come if this blog is still alive in 4 years for Pyeongchang 2018.

Shen and Zhao - Olympics SP

For my last Throwback Thursday post, I wanted to feature skaters who I thought exemplified the best of the Olympic spirit.

Firstly, it must be said that Shen & Zhao’s success grew out of someone else’s resolve after their own personal failures. That person, is their coach, Bin Yao. Bin Yao’s story is a favourite among commentators: back when Bin Yao was a pairs skater himself, China was still quite closed off to the rest of the world and figure skating was indeed a very foreign sport in China. Yao could only learn about pairs skating elements through photographs in books. In all their competitions, Yao and his partner never did very well – in fact, the audience was laughing at them at the 1980 World Championships. However, 30 years later, Yao established himself as one of the foremost coaches in pairs skating and he has single-handedly turned China into a pairs powerhouse. At the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, his students placed 1st, 2nd and 5th. Now, Shen & Zhao coach alongside Bin Yao, inspiring and improving the next generation of Chinese pairs skaters.

Shen & Zhao is a beautiful team not only because of their love for each other but for the love of their sport. At the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, they were aged 31 and 36 respectively. In terms of pairs skating, that is considered to be very ancient since the competitive life of a figure skater is short. The sport is dominated by teenagers and skaters often retire by age 25. Injuries are not unusual and in a discipline that requires athletes to throw or be be thrown around, being young is always helpful. Yet, despite all of this, Shen & Zhao persevered, set records throughout that season and became Olympic Champions.

For showing us that the impossible was possible, for showing us that age does not always prevent you from triumphing in a sport ruled by teenagers and for inspiring a new generation of skaters with their resilience, love of sport and ambition, I present to you Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, the last athletes for the Sochi 2014 Throwback Thursday posts.

Gold medallists China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo pose during the medals ceremony after the pairs figure skating finals at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

The Olympics are here! Are you excited?

~The Rinkside Cafe

Olympic Figure Skating Starts in Less than 24 Hours!

It’s been a whirlwind of posts and I’m all tuckered out. However, here is a roundup post of all sorts of links that can help you be the ultimate Olympic figure skating fan! Remember: figure skating events begin on February 6th while the opening ceremonies are on February 7th.

sochi mascots

For a schedule of events and information on all things Sochi 2014, here is the official website of this year’s Winter Games.

This is the ISU’s official page for the Olympics. I will put up the link to the protocols and scores if they ever show up. I finally found the protocols page. Who’s a fan of the site redesign? Not me.

For those who may not have access to a TV or all the channels, Hot Blades Hot Passion has written a post with a schedule of the figure skating events and livestream links.

If you have trouble figuring out time zones and what not, here is the time in Sochi along with the times of all the Olympic events.

Want to know who I think will win the Olympics? Check out my Olympic predictions post!

Be an informed figure skating viewer! I did a series of Skating 101 posts explaining some of the basics in figure skating today. Check them out below!

History of the 6.0 and Code of Points Judging System

The Basics of the Code of Points Judging System

Olympic Berths and Teams: How We Decided Who and How Many Go to the Olympics

Figure Skating Jumps

Figure Skating Spins

Pairs Skating Elements

Ice Dance

If you want to see what the athletes are competing for, here’s a post on the Olympic and Paralympic medals!

Don’t know who the animals are in the picture above? They’re the mascots of this year’s games! See them and the other mascot contenders (and my snarky comments) in this post!

Wasn’t paying attention to the entire figure skating season before the Olympics? I compiled a list of my favourite programs this season! Many of these programs are from top teams/skaters!

You’re ready for the Olympics!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Predictions: Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

The time has come and the Olympics are upon us. All of the training and hard work has come to this and I hope to see the best of the best doing their best in Sochi. In any case, here are my predictions for the individual event at the Olympics.

sochi medals

Men

Despite his loss to Yuzuru Hanyu at the Grand Prix Final, I still think that Patrick Chan is the favourite for gold. I’m not sure if I can let go of my cynicism and say that Chan won’t be overmarked but the pressure is on for him to skate clean. Yuzuru has shown that his program content alone is enough to beat Chan if he skates clean so in that respect, the battle for Olympic gold may boil down to these two competitors.

As for other competitors to keep an eye on, I’d say that Javier Fernandez has made a good recovery with his gold at the European Championships. The Spaniard has struggled in the Grand Prix series but seems to have regained his stride. Evgeni Plushenko is going to be a wildcard as well. Firstly, we don’t know if he’ll actually compete in the individual event. (Many figure skating devotees have noted that he may get a sudden “injury” after the team event which will allow another one of his compatriots to compete.) Daisuke Takahashi will remain a sentimental favourite and hopeful for a medal but with Daisuke’s up and down season and possibly the JFSA’s support for Yuzuru, we may see him off the podium.

Predictions:

Gold: Patrick Chan
Silver:
Yuzuru Hanyu
Bronze:
Javier Fernandez

Ladies

Yuna Kim is back and with last year’s decisive win and her huge scores at Nebelhorn, I’m not even sure if her injury will hold her back in her quest for a second Olympic gold medal. As for Mao Asada, I hope that she will be happy with whatever medal she gets. I’m not sure if she can beat Kim this time but I hope she recovers from the results of Japanese Nationals and show us what she’s been like all season: slowly improving in hopes of reaching perfection.

Of course, there will be other interesting competitors thrown into the mix here as we’re going to have a very interesting ladies competition. Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaia have both shown that they are at the top of their game and the field this season and both have a shot at a medal. Ashley Wagner has also had a good season so far, although with her defeat at the hands of Gracie Gold at U.S. Nationals, time will tell which U.S. lady has the support of the USFSA (I’d put my money on Gold) to get the politicking needed to get a medal.

Predictions:

Gold: Yuna Kim
Silver:
Mao Asada
Bronze:
Julia Lipnitskaia

Pairs

Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov did not face off against their rivals, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy at the European Championships (S&S withdrew due to illness) so we’re left with watching the ultimate re-match at the Olympics. (S&S beat V&T at the GPF.) However, having home-ice advantage definitely helps V&T and I would not be surprised if I see a gold medal hanging around their neck. I’m sure Mother Russia was furious for not having the pairs gold in Vancouver and I doubt she’ll relinquish it again on home ice. Qing Pang & Jian Tong have shown that they can’t quite beat the top two teams this season but are still a head above the rest so I think they have a good shot at Olympic bronze. Meaghan Duhamel & Eric Radford may try to get bronze but P&T have consistently ranked above them in competitions and therefore, D&R may only have a chance if the Chinese fail to deliver.

Predictions:

Gold: Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov
Silver:
Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy
Bronze:
Qing Pang & Jian Tong

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition will feature the on-going rivalry between Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Meryl Davis & Charlie White. I expect these two teams to show us the best they’ve ever got and at this point, I wish both teams could win the gold. D&W seem to have the edge over V&M this season as seen with their victory at the Grand Prix Final.

What might be more interesting is the battle for bronze. So far this season, no team has shown themselves to be the clear contenders for the “other gold medal.” (Because if your name isn’t Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, Meryl Davis or Charlie White, don’t even dream about the gold or even silver medal right now.) For bronze, I think the race will boil down to 3 European teams: Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, Russia’s #1 ice dance team, Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat and Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte. B&S have home ice advantage but the other teams are extremely technically proficient as they train under Igor Shpilband, who used to coach the top two teams.

Predictions:

Gold: Meryl Davis & Charlie White
Silver:
Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
Bronze:
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev

Since the skaters for the team event are tba, I can’t make any solid predictions other than I have a feeling that Russia, Canada and Japan will do well. And maybe Italy.

What are your predictions for this year’s Winter Olympics? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

Fun fact: I did a pre-season Olympic predictions post. Seems as if most of my opinions remain unchanged.

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